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Cass – Just Cass.

My Journey With Mental Illness

Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.

Holy crap guys things have been difficult.

A million times the drama I ever thought I’d experience. I feel like my world was turned upside down and I’m just getting back my bearings.

I’m breathing. I’m pushing through.

I’m set to run through the day program again, presumably assigned to the same doctor as last time – I felt we really leveled each other out so it’d be really helpful to be assigned to him again.

I just want everyone to know I’m okay. I will continue to be okay.

This ‘life’ business; it’s not stronger than me.

Did I mention I’m still in school through all this?

Let me just toot my own horn.

Toot toot.

~~~~~

That being said, my educational site will not be updated as often while I prioritize as much as I can with the barriers I’m facing.

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A quick post on #MyStory

#MyStory is long and complicated; still not completed or decoded. Each day is a different degree of struggle. Support..? Months, often years even for SEVERE cases – if you’re lucky. I believe I speak from the experience of many when I say that unless you show up at the ER missing a limb, you’re coping “okay enough.” Even in the extreme cases, the care is short term and patients are left feeling unsupported and ultimately, unsafe. This is simply UNACCEPTABLE. One day, once I get my diploma, I hope to help as many as I can, however I can.

Long Overdue Update

As I sit here, I listen to the sounds of a prerecorded thunderstorm, one among many tips (along with med changes, page to be updated soon with my full cocktail) from my managing psychiatrist to help my transition to bed easier.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; let me catch y’all up to speed.

I was reassessed and allowed back into the three week mental health day program, as I have been struggling with my moods.

First, it’s been nothing but splendid. I have a new psychiatrist and a new managing nurse, and I feel it’s a much more supportive team.

Just when you think you understand your own mental illness pretty thoroughly; I’ve learned that I have been experiencing mixed mania episodes – super rapid cycling too. In response to this, my psychiatrist decided to mix it up with my medication, try something that hasn’t been tried in a while to see if maybe it’d be effective in times such as these.

I was taken off of Prozac completely and suddenly – prozac has been my MAIN medication for the last… 10 or so years? And he took me off of it completely, overnight. I was terrified this would come with bad side effects especially considering the dose I was on and the length of time I’d been on it. Luckily, seemingly no problems with that.

He also, at the same time, took me off of Abilify completely and suddently – a drug that has helped me immensely with energy. I have not noticed less energy since stopping it three weeks ago.

He took me off these medications, as he had a new one in mind, and felt that taking prozac and abilify with it was counter-intuitive in my case.

So I started Epival. Blood tests to check my liver and such as this can be a dangerous medication for some. I started at 500mg and was quickly upped to 1000mg as the doctor realized it wasn’t overly sedating for me. He also doubled my Seroquel dose.

Reasoning behind all this madness: I’ve been experiencing mixed bipolar episodes and it’s causing (even more) trouble going to bed.

Let me make this clear. I am not bothered by sleeping, I love the feeling of snoozing, when I’m ready for it. However, lately I seem to have developed an irrational fear of going to bed. I get feelings of worthlessness for thinking I haven’t done enough and don’t deserve sleep. I get scared of being left alone with my thoughts.

So because the link between my sleep and my mental wellbeing is so pronounced, my nurse and psychiatrist decided to make sleep my primary priority, because we can’t work on other issues if I’m not sleeping right.

I should mention, this psychiatrist is the first to make me cry in YEARS. I mean, it’s all just become so routine and predictable. He seems to have a different approach, and it’s keeping me on my toes, making me think. I absolutely respect him – however I don’t think I’ll be able to see him once I’m done with my enrollment with the day program, but he has reassured me he will be making sure I have follow-up care in place before I am discharged.

Back to this no sleep business – it was getting to the point where I was becoming delusional. I felt an obsessive need to do something drastic, though I wasn’t quite sure what that might be.

It has been three weeks and my attendance in the day program has been less than spectacular, but I have been trying my damnedest. My psychiatrist, however, is not comfortable letting me be discharged from the program while I’m still so unstable; so he extended my enrollment for another week because he doesn’t want to leave me in crisis.

Now, this doctor has some great ideas for me, but they’re hard to settle into. He wants me to have a 2 hour wind down window before bed with no stimulating activity, creating a routine for going to bed. While I agree this is a good idea, my body and mind want to fight it.

Finally, he has advised me to take the next semester off school to focus on me. I get it, and even agree, but it breaks my heart. It feels selfish.

Anyway, I’m still feeling as though I’m in a mixed state, though it is trending more positively, and I’ve had lots of energy to get stuff done today, so maybe the new medication mix is working, or the extra sleep it’s been helping me to get is improving my mental state. Regardless, I’m not going to knock it – I’m better than I was last week; which is excellent because he told me I may have to be admitted to impatient if we can’t start getting it under control fast.

Sleep is my biggest struggle at the moment. I’ve got a bunch of handouts on different things to do to be more effective at bedtime, but I still struggle. It’s something that’s going to need to be addressed on a deeper level.

So, that’s what’s been going down and why I’ve been so quiet. I’m around though, lurking.

Keep on truckin’ peeps!

Bleeeerrrrrggggggghhhhh

Okay so I am completely overwhelmed.

Between personal issues, pain, school, a recent move, and many other factors, I’m also not sleeping well which has a huge effect on my mental health. BUT. I’m handling it. Barely. I feel like I’m desperately clinging to sanity. I’m so determined to finish this semester. My focus and concentration are forced and limited. But I’m proud of myself, despite agoraphobia seeming to be increasingly a problem.

My thoughts are all over the place, and I’m trying so hard to slow them down. Anxiety is through the roof and it’s taking a lot of skill use to get through it.

Additionally, I have been readmitted to the three week Day Program for mental health at the same hospital I received treatment and walked out of before. I am hopeful as I am in a different place now, but I am also on eggshells thinking of a repeat. The only way to know is to try, and I KNOW structure helps me stabilize, so we’ll see how that goes.

Wish me luck guys, I’m scatterbrained.

Goals!

On my educational website, I outlined how goal setting usually looks in DBT. In the spirit of helping in the form of leading by example, here are my current personal goals:

Behaviours to Decrease:
– Avoidance/Procrastination
– Inflexibility toward change
– Impulsive spending eating, and skin picking
– Passivity and inattentiveness

Behaviours to Increase:
Embracing instead of avoiding
– Opening up to change (willingness) and “going with the flow”
– Mindfulness of impulsive behaviours
– Assertiveness and boundary setting

Potential Obstacles and Coping Plan:
– Fear > check in with my emotions, cope ahead of time, make a plan
– Willfulness > mindfulness and reminding myself I want to be better
– Procrastination > make a plan to be held accountable to

So there, ladies and gents, are my current goals. What are yours?

It’s been a little while!

It’s been a little while, and I’m proud to say I am doing better than I was. Life, well, seems to remain a roller coaster that I can’t seem to keep up with.

However, I am back in classes and its given me a sense of direction, and something to focus on, which has been really helpful.

I’m going to be putting more effort into my actual webpage, and seeing if I can’t push myself back into DBT by teaching it to others.

Wish me luck!

Review of Medical Cannabis for Anxiety, Depression and Pain

I have tried both heavily concentrated THC and CBD oils, as well as an oil with a 1:2 THC:CBD ratio.

And I must say, I am impressed.

My depression seems to have lifted a bit, my anxiety has definitely been a lot less prominent, and my pain, when treated with CBD oil, is sometimes completely eliminated for a time! I have never felt as though I was harmoniously treating my laundry list of conditions, until now. I feel like between the three oils, something is working and seemingly reducing the edge on nearly all (if not all) of my symptoms.

It’s quite the relief, really; to have something that seems to be working.

That being said, it does seem too good to be true. I am of course cautious – dosing carefully and monitoring effects – waiting for something to go awry.

I am still experimenting and toggling to find the right doses at the right time intervals, but there’s been a marked difference in my mood overall, as well as a reduction in my pain.

Feel free to message me directly with any questions about medical cannabis or my experience with it; I will do my best to provide you with the most hands-on information I can.

More Medication Adjusting + Update

After struggling for a long while with avoiding sleep, my doctor prescribed me seroquel (a medication I was previously unsuccessful with) to try to help put me to sleep – it worked. I also noticed a marked difference in my mood between the days I had taken my seroquel or missed it. So, since it seemed to work for both sleep and mood, my physician tripled my dose (slowly of course) and it seems to be helping.

As for how life in general is going – hectic as hell. Everyday experiences feel like a whirlwind around me and sometimes I just can’t seem to catch my breath. Then there are days I feel like I’m just about to start planting my feet on the ground, but it’s a process and I recognize and accept that the lows I am experiencing are part of my journey, and so I will push forth.

Unfortunate Truth About The Day Program

I’ve been wanting to write about this for days, but it’s still raw and hard to express my emotions surrounding it.

So, I started the day program I was offered. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place.

I don’t even know where to start. I could literally “teach the program myself” (feedback from group leaders, not my own words). Several times I have been asked to explain my rationale to the group using DBT and CBT concepts because they are the core of the program. So, to begin with, I already know the material they’re going to teach me. I understand it, and can even use it to help others. But sometimes, the skills don’t work for me. I tried to tell this to the psychiatrist managing my case.

The psychiatrist pretty much refuses to change any of my medications or dosages (which was her job…?) because I’m on such a complex cocktail.

Soon, the issue of marijuana came up with the psychiatrist. I had no reason to lie, so I mentioned I’d be self-medicating for a while because it’s the only thing that actually seems to calm me down and help me focus.

And that was all I needed to say. Now, all my issues, new and old, as far as this psychiatrist is concerned, can be traced back to pot. She asked me to cut back during the program and see how I feel. I agreed; not that anything I said mattered after this point.

I continued in the day program for almost 2 weeks. During this period, I had to leave early several times due to anxiety, and on one occasion I got so distressed that I started to just, shut down again. I fell asleep in the group.

So, naturally the psychiatrist wanted to see me after this. I told her what happened and received this response: “But, you had to be relaxed if you fell asleep, right? Relaxed is a good thing!”

No, Doc, with all due respect, I basically fell unconscious because internally I was freaking the hell out, and couldn’t handle it.

“Well, clinically, besides referring you to an addictions specialist, there’s not much I can do for you.”

Quite possibly the most triggering thing I have heard in a while. Essentially, I’m a lost cause because I self-medicate because NOTHING ELSE WORKS, and NO PROFESSIONAL IS WILLING TO LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY I NEED HELP, because of their own personal bias against marijuana.

I have mentioned several times that my family doctor is aware of my situation, and that I have an appointment with a specialist regarding my marijuana use. Apparently this meant nothing to them, as they continued to insist that weed MUST be the issue.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to be right.

I’m saying I feel like every professional refuses to give me the time of day because they dismiss me as an addict. What they don’t realize is how much worse I’d be if I weren’t able to self-medicate. Maybe that’s the problem.

My weed use may be a crutch; yes, I agree. But it’s the only one I’ve got right now when the medications and the skills don’t work. I’m more than happy to give up marijuana in favor of some kind of treatment that will help as much with my struggles.

I’m just, so tired of being dismissed; I’m worth more than that.

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